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Funny Messy Life

80 EpisodesProduced by Michael BlackstonWebsite

Stories about life, relationships, and culture delivered in a way that will help brighten your day or at least make you ask, "What is he smokin'?" But don't worry. It's all in good fun and it's family friendly. I'm Michael Blackston and these are tales from my blog - in audio form - all based on rea… read more

26:39

Gender Issues - FML 007

 I’ve never been confused about my gender or even curious what it would be like to wear a dress. So to be crystal clear, I’m all dude. But I spent a lot of my formative years with women and I think that’s done a couple of things for me. I don’t always come across as the burliest, manliest fella in the cave because I’ve learned to appreciate some things over the years that might be considered more along the feminine side of the dividing line, and I find it’s just much easier for me to talk and relate to women than men. While I’ve never battled any confusion when it comes to my gender, it may not be that easy for other other people, at first notice, to decide exactly what I am. I’m Michael Blackston and you’re entering one of the weirder areas of my Funny, Messy Life.

_______________

 I spent most of my time with my mom and my sister growing up and that caused me to adopt similar interests - my mom’s love for music and the theatre, my sister’s affinity for the figure skating portion of the winter Olympics, and my grandma’s skill at making fresh baked biscuits from scratch. But despite all of the things about me that might seem more “girly” than the average guy, I’m serious about my masculinity and can hold my own in any, well ... most ... okay, plenty of bro-hood scenarios. I’m here to proudly say ...

 

 I Am Man - Hear Me Sing Sweetly In Falsetto

 I thought it’d be a good idea to make it clear exactly who I think I am. I do this because the odds are phenomenally good that if I don't, you'll eventually think to yourself, "Just who does this guy think he is?"

 I shall save us some time.

 I’m an artist with a bunch of interests. I'm a husband and a father (In that order), and a devout Christian. If you keep those things in mind, you'll get most of where I'm coming from.

 However, a new description recently came into play as to the condition of my character that had me a tad confused. I was described by a well-meaning friend as being not so much a woman trapped in a man’s body, but also not exactly the cover model for Man’s Man weekly. He said I was more of a “Metrosexual”. It took me a minute to process that as I looked up the definition of the word before I punched him in the face with my man knuckles. I wasn’t completely positive there wouldn’t be some face punching to come, but I’m a reasonable person. I forgot to add "reasonable" to my list of traits you might find handy to know. I could at least perform my due diligence before the fists began to fly and here’s what I found to be the correct use of the term as defined by Webster’s dictionary online:

noun met·ro·sex·u·al ˌme-trə-ˈsek-sh(ə-)wəl:
A usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes.

 HAHAHAHAHAHA! I decided my friend had not really checked his description for accuracy whilst pertaining it to moi.

 I asked him why he thought of me that way and he replied, “Because you’re a straight dude who likes a lot of girly stuff.”

 Okay, I thought, he has a point. He’s obviously referring to my obsessive love for live theatre (especially the musical variety), my fierce desire to keep a tidy home (although that never seems to become a reality), my embrace of all the arts - including crafts - and the fact that I can do a pretty good Julie Andrews when I’ve had a little too much coffee. But I didn’t feel that was enough to categorize me as a metrosexual when compared against the definition as given by Merriam Webster. So I adjusted my man-girdle (it was getting hot and you sweat under those things) and prepared to give my rebuttal.

 “You, my friend – O he of camouflaged grandeur -, have me all wrong. True, I hold fast to a few things that may be considered feminine by some standards. And yes, I enjoy cooking, show tunes, and sappy movies where people fall in love, have a fight, then one of them chases after the other just as they're about to drive off or fly away, only to make up and kiss in the rain. I absolutely asked my mother the other day to borrow her sewing machine so that I could learn how to use it to make my costume creations go faster. So what?! I might fit the description as you see it, but I am not the best groomed of any room. I hate to shop for clothes, and have never had a beauty treatment. Therefore, I would say that I definitely do not fit the description of a metrosexual.

 “Further,” I told him, “you may be surprised to find that I'm a crack shot with a rifle and although I’m sickened at the thought of killing for sport, I’ve spent more than a few hours in a deer stand in my youth and even bagged a couple. I fully respect those who hunt for food and wish you Godspeed in your future woodland endeavors, my scruffy friend with a bird nesting in your beard. Speaking of woodlands, my good sir, you should know that I, too, can track game and have a fair knowledge of survival skills as taught to me by my father, a great hunter and gatherer. Among other manly things I learned and adore that were taught to me all or in part by my father are the following: carpentry, gun safety, persistence in learning a skill, how to field dress a deer ("gut it", for those who aren’t manly), how to properly hold a hammer and how to string colorful combinations of curse words together when hitting your thumb with said hammer, how to fish, how to camp, the fact that gifts that were made by hand are more precious and last longer than anything you could ever buy with money, and the list goes on.”

 “Sorry ‘bout'at,” he offered and spit something brown into a cup.

 I like to think of myself as well rounded and cultured in lots of different ways, not just the ones that scream TESTOSTERONE, and I’ve put together a list of things that I believe truly make a real man.

 A REAL Man includes the following traits:

     · He is capable of laughing even when it hurts, unless there’s a lot of blood coming out of something important.
     · Given some wood, nails or screws, and a drill, he can build something useful – like a shelf for his Broadway show tunes collection or a drawer he can put his stage makeup in.
     · He can do simple self-surgeries (I dug out my own in-grown toenail and regaled you with that story in Episode 4.)
     · He is not only capable of love, but doesn't mind saying it out loud to anybody he really feels it towards.
     · He believes in something and is willing to fight for it. Like which is better - store bought fondant or homemade? Or who drew first - Han Solo or Greedo? (Let the debate begin.)
     · He feels strongly that he is actually a mightier man than Old Dan Tucker because not only could he wash his face with a frying pan, but would have never died of a toothache in his heel. (He would have dug it out like I did. Like a man.)
     · He never abuses women, children, or animals either physically or mentally.
     · He cherishes his chosen mate as a precious jewel.
     · He can build a fire. He might have to use those easy light logs they sell at Walmart, but he can light ‘em, by thunder!
     · He will put that fire out when he’s done with it.

     - He observes the oxford comma.
     · He takes his punishment without placing blame on others.
     · He sits calmly in the bleachers, keeps his mouth shut unless he’s cheering or otherwise being a positive influence, and lets the coaches coach.
     · He spends time with his children and shows his sons how to be real men and his daughters how to be real women.

 These are just a few and I’m sure there are plenty more I didn’t include. Let me know if you think of something I left out.

 As far as my friend and our encounter over my alleged "metrosexuality", I didn’t hit him because he didn’t know any better and a real man has more sense than that. Plus, I didn’t want to get tobacco juice on my knuckles. After our conversation, I agreed to buy some deer meat from him, shook his hand (which smelled suspiciously of doe urine - or at least I assume it was doe urine. It was some kind of urine and now I’m thinking, dear God let it be doe urine), and offered to throw away his spit cup. Instead, he dumped it in the bushes.

 I gave him the old man nod and we walked our separate ways.

 Metrosexual, my girdle.

___________________

  I’m not sure if my natural speaking voice being a little high is due to all the time I’ve spent around women or not. I recognize a bit of a lilt to it a lot of guys don’t have that might make someone listening to, but not seeing me, think they’re hearing a middle aged southern woman straight off the plantation. I get that, but it doesn’t change the fact that it irritates the buttermilk out of me when it happens. I want to shout ...

 Dude! Don’t Call Me Ma’am

 I’ve lived with a phenomenon in my life that has plagued me at drive-thru intercoms and on telemarketing calls for, oh, maybe twenty years. And now, after so long and so many awkward moments when I come face to face with the clerk at the window, I’ve given up and come to terms with the fact that I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life.

 In a choir, I’m always placed in the tenor section. And because I’m a tenor, I don’t lay claim to a very low tonality of voice. I’ll never be heard over speakers, softly setting the mood for some couple’s “special” time. In other words, I’m no Barry White. My voice whispering, “Yeah, baby, you know you’re awwwwl-riiiight”, would come out sounding something like a chipmunk talking to a beautiful acorn.

 So it shouldn’t surprise you that on most occasions when I’m talking to a faceless voice over an intercom or on the phone, to someone who doesn’t know me from Adam, nine times out of ten, I’ll eventually hear, “that’s a double cheeseburger meal with no pickle, add mayo, onion rings instead of fries, two apple pies for the price of one, a cup of gravy with extra gravy, some mayonnaise packets, a bucket of lard, and a Diet Coke. Large size it … Will that be all, ma’am?"

 I know my voice can sound higher than the average dude and I’ve had to answer for that time and time again. I think it might have been some of the spark behind the “metrosexual” incident I just told you about.

 But I’m still amazed that there are times my voice comes across as girly. And it’s not that anybody’s calling me a sissy, either. THEY REALLY THINK I’M A WOMAN! And it happens all the time.

 But I have a theory that just might explain things and even if it’s not the reason, I’m sticking to it because it’s the best I have and I came up with it all by myself. I think that most people - not just me - tend to raise their voices at the drive-thru speaker, causing it to go up a few steps in the scale.

 Imagine that I’m a man, because I AM a man. Now imagine that my gruff, burly self has decided he’s thirsty and desires a brew worthy of my power. Those who know me, stop laughing and follow me into the fantasy. I drive up to the Altar of the Arches and roll down my window. No, I cock a sinister eye at the window and it cowers in fear due to my manliness.

 The person on the other end of the speaker chimes without much excitement, “Welcome to Altar of the Arches. Would you like to try our new bacon wrapped bacon today?”

 I clear my throat and prepare to order with the authority of a god, and reply.

 “No, thank you. I’d like a medium coffee with six creams and one Splenda.” I say it in a voice lifted several octaves so I can be heard over the sounds of the outside world. And because I always feel like I have to yell in these situations. I end up sounding like some freak hybrid of Richard Simmons and Dame Judi Dench. And by the way, that is exactly how I take my coffee at the Altar of the Arches.

 “Yes, ma’am. Pull around.”

 It’s become a point of paranoia now. I listen back to my voice over work and think to myself, “I might have sounded a little girly there, but I don’t think anyone would get the idea I was wearing a dress.”

 Maybe it’s because I get along better with women than men. When I find myself at a gathering, it’s more often than not that I’m hanging out with the ladies instead of the guys. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to favor the more tender side of things. I know how to hunt, but prefer not to. I’d rather be painting a deer than killing it. I can fish, but I’d rather be writing or singing a song about the sea than standing by it with a rod and reel in my hand. And I guess that tendency adds a delicate quality to my conversation. Give me a discussion about poetry and art over hunting, fishing, or politics any day. After all, ladies never get involved in tasteless banter, right?

 WRONG! That’s exactly where the juicy conversation is found. And as long as I can handle words like “uterus”, “nipples”, and God help me, “Oprah”, without becoming red in the face, I’ll usually be accepted into the group. Come to think of it, “nipples” can often be heard around the fire with the men as well, just not in a decent frame of reference.

 Spending most of my childhood in the presence of my mother and sister has a lot to do with it, I’m sure. But when I ask others, “Do I sound like a woman to you,” they always assure me, “Oh, noooooooo. Of course not. Why would you ever think such a thing?” And I know they’re sincere because they usually fix each other with a knowing look and a bit of a smile on their faces as if to say, “How charming is this manly specimen?! I think Michael is THE most manly man in the history of manhood”. I’m positive that’s how I ought to take it.

 So why do I have the same problem whenever I’m on the phone with some telemarketer I don’t know?

 “Blackston residence …”

 “Hello, ma’am. Is your husband home?”

 UUUGGGHHHH! Don’t they train you not to be sexist and ask for the “Man of the House” over at the University of Interrupting People To Sell Stuff They Don’t Want Or Need?

 If it’s a woman on the other end, I might get sassy and try to start a cat fight, seeing how long I can keep them going thinking I’m a female myself. It doesn’t take long to end the call, but normally not the way I would have it. They’ll just call me a B-word or hiss and hang up.

 If it’s a guy, I might flirt to see if he’ll flirt back before lowering my voice so that he can tell I’m definitely NOT a woman. You can’t put a price on that awkward moment. Unless the lower voice lets him know I’m teeming with dude-ship and he does flirt back. Then the awkward moment belongs to me and all I can say is, “Well played, intrusive salesman, well played.”

 I know this all sounds kind of mean, but it gets old being mistaken for a girl, even if it is an honest mistake every single time.

 So I guess next time I might try to be nicer and just lower my voice, hoping to get them to see the error of their ways and apologize. It’ll probably go something like …

CALLER:   Hello, ma’am. Is your husband at home?

ME:   (Lowering my voice) I’m the only one here.

CALLER:   Oh, I’m so sorry … Do you have a cold, ma’am?

 And then I’ll just finally give up.

_________________

 Gender issues aren’t just my burden to bear, though. I felt for my wife during both of her pregnancies as she dealt with - and handled like a boss, I might add - different obstacles that I’ve since learned come as part of the whole child birthing package. I knew about the sore back, the morning sickness, and all the stuff that swells up, but I had no idea about one amazing side effect women frequently endure while the bun bakes in the oven.

 Pregnant Brain - The Struggle Is Real

*This is another one that contains too much mention of writing for me to edit it out for a podcast without recreating the whole thing and I’m too lazy for that, so just ignore the writing stuff and the fact that this is a run-on sentence and enjoy the story.

  I can’t remember what I was going to write about.

 It’s 11:14 pm and I’m in a Myrtle Beach Waffle House because I’m not tired and I have a blog post due. I’m probably not feeling tired because I can’t turn off my mind because I have a blog post due. I have a blog post due because I haven’t written a few ahead of time and stored them away like I promised myself I would and now I’m behind the eight ball so I’m obsessing over the fact that I have a blog post due and I can’t sleep. And now I’m wide awake and about to eat a greasy cheeseburger plate at a Waffle House in Myrtle Beach.

 In addition to my short-term memory, I also tend to lose the capacity not to write run-on sentences when I’m in this state; not the state of South Carolina, but the state of Tired And Eating A Cheeseburger Way Too Late At Night.

 Maybe age has something to do with my forgetting what I was going to write about. They say that the more you age, the more stuff you forget, like where you put the remote, where you put your car keys, and where you put your smart phone that contains the app you downloaded to help you locate the remote and your car keys. But I’m sad to say that I’m old enough now that age has started taking that sort of toll on me. I can’t be a day over thirty. That’s what somebody wearing coke bottle glasses said to me once, “You can’t be a day over 30, sonny!”, and I want to believe them.

 My wife has an out, though, and she’s not afraid to use it: Pregnant Brain.

 According to her, Pregnant Brain is a condition that happens to many, if not all, women in the event of many, if not all, pregnancies. It can occur during the gestational period, which might manifest in her forgetting to add pickles to her 3 am peanut butter taco craving, for example. Or it can be something that happens weeks or even months after the baby has shot out waving jazz hands. For instance, my wife forgetting that I informed her of my distaste for diaper duty. It can even spring forth during labor and delivery by her forgetting that you can’t survive without your spine; the one she’s punched through your abdomen to clench in her fist.

 At first I thought it was something she made up so I wouldn’t be upset when she failed to do stuff she didn’t want to do, but then it kept happening. She’d forget to bring home household necessities I asked for, like candy bars and booze.

 “Pregnant Brain!” she shouted and threw her hands into the air as if care were a thing she didn’t possess.

 At first I figured she just didn’t want me, a Christian, to chase a Whatchamacallit with Rock and Rye, but she sincerely promised that she forgot. After all, Whatchamacallits are sinful. Okay, … I really only wanted the Rock and Rye because, although I hate the taste of liquor, nothing puts a stop to bronchitis better than a shot of whiskey before bed and I was having a nasty bout of “The Crud”. And I still think maybe she just didn’t want to be seen going into the ABC store by the preacher or somebody in the community who would be on the horn to my grandma before she could pull out of the parking lot. In a small town, you have to check the church bulletin for your name in prayer list every Sunday morning, in case some mouthy gossip saw you renting that R-rated movie from Redbox.

 As we ordered a meal at a fancy restaurant that rhymes with Rexas Toadhouse the other night, the waitress, who looked like any minute she might deliver more to our table than the food, apologized for forgetting a part of our order by implementing “Pregnant Brain!” I will say I was pleased that she didn’t throw her hands into the air as if caring were not on the menu as my wife tends to do. Of course, had she done that, steak, mashed potatoes, and broccoli would have flown hither and yon among the patrons.

 I nearly summoned the courage to ask her about the Pregnant Brain issue, but decided not to when I remembered the last time I mentioned a baby to a waitress I thought was expecting. It turns out she was expecting - to have cheesecake after work - and my face went beet red, so I opted out of asking further questions of this waitress, just to be on the safe side.

 I figured there had to be something to this Pregnant Brain thing after all and suddenly lots of stuff began making sense. I felt like maybe I needed to apologize to my wife for accusing her of being slack that time she ...

 Forgot to pick up my underwear that finally fell off the ceiling fan. I’d been showing off my sweet ninja skills by kicking it into the air and trying to catch it before it hit the ground. Don’t shake your heads, guys … you know you’ve done it. Only this time I got a little too much lift and got it caught on one of the fan blades.

 Or that time she forgot to unclog the drain after I emptied a bowl of hamburger grease down it then followed that with cold water.

 She also had a case of Pregnant Brain once when she forgot to put the milk back in the fridge after I made a glass of Rich, Chocolate Ovaltine and left a nearly full gallon on the counter.

 “Pshaw!” I used to say about Pregnant Brain, but now, I consider the time it caused my wife to nearly burn down the house due to preheating the oven without removing the pizza box I’d secretly put in there to keep from the cats or the time she almost burned down the house due to preheating the oven without removing the cat I’d secretly hidden in there to keep out of the pizza box.

 So to all of you ladies who’ve ever carried and delivered children with the effect that things tend to slip your minds a little more often, please accept my humble apologies. I realize that I’m a man who will never know what it’s like to bear a child inside my own body and as a result, suffer brain damage. I can’t speak for all men, but I can speak for myself – a person who, according to a blind woman, doesn’t look a day over thirty – and I say don’t worry about it.

 To be honest, I know that it IS a real thing and it's something that real women have to deal with. So while I joke, I also appreciate that we men need to understand that the physical nature of bearing children has lasting effects well beyond the delivery room and the nine months prior to it. And because you endure, you are to be cherished and appreciated almost as much as opening day of college football.

 If the blessing of being the vessel of creation requires that your short-term memory take a hit then so be it. It’s worth it, right? At least you have a reason beyond age that you can point to with pride and sincerity.

 We men can claim one of two things: being old or being stupid. Most of the time it’s the latter, I’m sorry to say. Well, I refuse to believe I’m old because that blind woman said so and that leaves me with stupid.

 Fine then. I can’t remember what I was going to write about because I’m stupid. I’ll eventually figure out something to write about, even if being stupid or this cheeseburger kills me. Or these hashbrowns. Or the pie I think I’m gonna order.

 That is if my waitress will come over here.

 I think she may have forgotten about me.

 And now I see her throwing her hands in the air sans care.

 Maybe I ought to ask her when she’s due.

_________________

 I feel like I ought to mention something about that last story. You know, the section around the middle where I talk about all the stuff my wife forgot to do to clean up after me when a man with any worth at all would have cleaned his own mess. Yeah, that was a joke. I included it to be funny, so please don’t send me mean comments. I love you, ladies. But if that sounded a lot like your man, let me know and I’ll create a scathing story in one of my future episodes that’ll shame him into doing better.

 

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